KAREN O & DANGER MOUSE
BOTTOM LINE A lush, gorgeous art project that rocks
Karen O & Danger Mouse’s “Lux Prima” (BMG) shows how thrilling collaborations between two formidable artists can be.
You can hear the artistic push and pull between the Yeah Yeah Yeahs frontwoman and the producer and musician who co-founded both Gnarls Barkley with CeeLo Green and Broken Bells with James Mercer. The hushed “Ministry” feels like a continuation of Karen O’s last album, the vulnerable “Crush Songs” from 2014, as does the beautiful “Reveries,” where she is accompanied by only an acoustic guitar for the first half of the song. The funky, bass-driven “Leopard’s Tongue” could easily been on the last Broken Bells album.
However, it’s the way Karen O and Danger Mouse use their talents together to create new experiments like the catchy potential hit “Woman” that makes “Lux Prima” shine. On “Woman,” which fits in with Karen O’s idea to connect her music with motherhood as her first project since having her son Django in 2015, she uses her distinctive delivery to modernize the song’s girl-group backing vocals and percussion. The sleek single “Turn the Light” has a pop feel, with bits of funk guitar and Karen O cooing, that sounds like a breath of fresh air compared to so many radio-friendly alt-rock hits these days. And “Redeemer” features some great Karen O lines like “I got lust and you got lost.” When she sings, “You’re not coming for me, I’m coming for you,” it sounds like it’s either a threat or a pickup line, which worked for a lot of Yeah Yeah Yeahs songs.
Because Karen O and Danger Mouse do not lack for ambition, they have used “Lux Prima” as the soundtrack for an upcoming art installation at the Marciano Art Foundation in Los Angeles. But these songs can all stand on their own as pieces of art and testaments to the power of collaboration.